A Prediabetes Diet Plan
If you've been diagnosed with prediabetes, it's time to take action to reduce your risks. One of the biggest changes you can make is in your diet and healthy meal planning. Choosing certain foods may help slow or even stop the progression of the disease, and help you feel your best.
What’s the best approach for creating your prediabetes eating plan? This article will help you understand more about what prediabetes is and the best ways to approach your diet with a few simple changes that can make a big impact.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition in which the body’s blood sugar, or blood glucose levels, are higher than normal, but still lower than what’s diagnosable as type 2 diabetes. In both prediabetes and diabetes, higher blood glucose levels are caused by the improper production and use of insulin by the body’s cells. Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas produces to regulate blood glucose levels and is essential for helping the body properly store and use glucose for energy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “approximately 88 million American adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes” and “of those with prediabetes, more than 84% don’t know they have it.” Prediabetes may not be as noticeable as type 2 diabetes, but the following are potential signs of prediabetes:
- Weight gain or being overweight
- Family history of diabetes
- Minimal physical activity and fatigue
- Excessive thirst
While the numbers for prediabetes may seem alarming, there are ways to slow down the progression of prediabetes and help prevent a more serious diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, especially by adjusting your diet. A proper prediabetes eating plan combined with an active lifestyle could be just what you need to avoid a more serious health condition.
If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes or have concerns about it, consult with your doctor before making any diet or lifestyle changes. In this article, we will cover diet and lifestyle strategies that may help withblood sugar regulation.
Prediabetic Eating Plan to Support a Healthy Lifestyle
Finding the right diet is unique to each individual. There are many different diets to address prediabetes, but ultimately, it’s important to discuss any dietary changes with your doctor to ensure you're doing what's best for your body. The following dietary suggestions are a good place to begin as you learn about prediabetes and the effects of food on your body.
1. Incorporate nutrient-rich vegetables
Consuming vegetables is an important part of any diet, but choosing certain types of vegetables as part of a prediabetic eating plan may be helpful in regulating blood sugar. Not all vegetables offer the same health benefits, with some being starchier or carbohydrate-rich.
The body needs carbohydrates for energy, but an excess of them, or too much of a certain type of carbohydrate can lead to spikes in blood glucose levels. Regulating blood glucose is a key factor in treating prediabetes and for maintaining a healthy weight.
The following vegetables are nutrient-rich and may help support regulated blood sugar:
- Leafy greens (kale, chard, lettuces)
- Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts)
- Green beans
It’s important to remember that some vegetables can elevate blood sugar more quickly and should be consumed in moderation, such as beets and white potatoes. You may also want to avoid canned vegetables, particularly if they have high sodium content.
2. Include healthy fats
While high-fat foods like French fries and butter aren’t always great additions to a prediabetes eating plan, some fats may be beneficial. They may help you feel more satisfied, which can prevent you from going for sweet snacks to make you feel full or energized–and they’re delicious! Try incorporating the following healthy fat sources into your cooking:
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
When choosing fats to include, remember that they are high in calories, so consider adding them in moderation and being mindful of serving sizes.
3. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water is one of the best ways to approach your prediabetic eating plan. When your blood sugar starts to rise, your body tries to excrete excess sugar out of your system via urine. This can lead to dehydration, which is why it's important to stay hydrated. Water is one of the best sources of hydration because there are no added sugars that could spike blood sugar.
Foods to Avoid for Prediabetics
There are many delicious, nutritious foods for individuals with prediabetes to enjoy, but there are also foods to avoid. Generally, these are foods that can lead to elevated blood glucose levels, but some may also introduce risk factors for higher cholesterol, heart disease, and weight gain. The following list of foods should be limited on your prediabetic eating plan, or avoided completely:
- Dried fruits
- Soda and other sweetened beverages
- White bread, pasta, and rice
- Packaged foods
- Trans fats
- Fried foods
- High-fat meats
- Sweeteners like sugar, honey, agave, and maple syrup
Following these basic tips is a great foundation for a prediabetic eating plan, and may help you feel better, maintain a healthy weight, regulate blood sugar, and prevent a future diabetes diagnosis. As always, when considering a major lifestyle change, make sure you consult with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or registered dietitian.
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